Last ditch efforts were today on to evacuate about 900 people from Badrinath amid overcast conditions at some places in Uttarakhand where authorities were grappling with the task of extricating bodies from under tonnes of debris lying in Kedarghati and their cremation.
Despite bad weather at places including Dehradun, chopper operations began on Monday morning in Chamoli district to evacuate about 300 pilgrims and 600 locals from Badrinath shrine to Joshimath from where they will be brought further down by road.
According to latest official figures, approximately 3000 persons have been reported missing after the tragedy.
The Chief Secretaries of the states concerned have been asked to verify the list and if the lost people are not traced in a month they will be declared dead.
On the 16th day of the calamity on Sunday, only 36 bodies have been disposed of amid necessary rituals so far in the worst-hit Kedarnath shrine area with no cremation having taken place there over the past two days, officials said.
The state government has sent a 200-member team of medical experts, trained police personnel and support staff from the municipal corporation to the Valley to perform the onerous task of extricating the bodies and their ritual cremation.
Some of the medical experts, who had been sent to Kedarnath to take the DNA samples of the bodies there, have returned after falling sick.
With human bodies lying all over the area, the air is thick with a foul smell making it difficult for those sent to clear the debris stay there for long.
“The frequently changing weather with intermittent rains is another hurdle. We are going about the cremation process slowly,” DIG Sanjay Gunjyal, who is supervising the exercise, told PTI over phone.
Despite the odds being faced by the administration in transporting relief material to affected people with around 50 per cent of the roads still damaged, free of cost food grains and other essential commodities are being provided to the affected villages cut-off from the roads in helicopters, said an official statement.
Kerosene is also being made available to the people of affected areas on subsidised rates.
Out of the 4200 cut-off of villages or habitations, 2865 have been restored so far, it said.
Keywords: Uttarakhand floods, flash floods, landslips, Uttarakhand landslides, Himalayan ecosystem, Char Dham yatra, Uttarakhand rescue, disaster management, Indian Army rescue, Badrinath, Kedarnath, rescue operations